4 Apr 2024

Chief Forester for Scotland

Dr Helen McKay OBE has been re-appointed as Chief Forester for Scotland.

Holding the post for the last four years, Dr McKay will continue to provide technical and professional advice to the Scottish Government on forestry matters in Scotland.

Welcoming the appointment, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“I’m really pleased that Dr McKay will continue in her role as Chief Forester for Scotland.

“Her scientific expertise and knowledge of the various strands of forestry is extremely valuable, especially at a time when forestry’s profile and relevance to society has never been higher.”

In addition to providing technical advice to the Scottish Government, a major part of the job entails acting as Head of Profession for public sector foresters, as well as promoting professional standards in the wider sector.

On her re-appointment, Dr McKay added:

“My previous four years in the role have been extremely rewarding. It has also been challenging - I have been working with people in many different sectors to provide the best possible forestry education and training as well as promoting forestry as a worthwhile career for young people and career changers.

“I am keen to continue this collaborative work with other agencies and organisations so that we can attract more people into forestry and develop skills right across the industry.”

A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, Dr McKay worked within Forest Research since 1988, with a seven-year spell in the Forestry Commission’s Corporate and Forestry Support and a short secondment to the then Forestry Commission Scotland.

She was awarded an OBE for her services to forest science and forestry and holds a BSc in Ecological Science and PhD from Edinburgh University and is also a member of the Institute of Chartered Environmentalists.

Dr McKay was first appointed to the role of Chief Forester for Scotland in 2020 and held the position for its maximum term of 4 years, before the post had to be openly re-advertised again.

The position of Chief Forester for Scotland is a requirement of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018. Dr McKay will start her re-appointment on 1st August this year and will spend approximately two days a week carrying out her duties.